How many training hours are appropriate for store-level workers?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of a recent article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
According to early findings from our annual Store Report, retailers think training their store personnel is fairly important, but there are serious snags in how much training those personnel receive — particularly at the store associate level.
According to early findings, about 32 percent of retail “laggards” believe 10 hours or less of training is adequate for new store associates. In actuality, 62 percent of new stores associates received less than 10 hours of training. That’s less than 10 hours to get new associates fully on-boarded and familiar enough with the company, its culture, its brand story and all corresponding tech systems and customer-facing matters to carry them through a full year.
Source: RSR Research, Not Yet Released 2017 Store Report
But even with retail “winners”, 18 percent say that 10 hours or less is enough training for a new store associate to receive each year. The question was asked in a vacuum, where money is no object.
The high number of successful retailers seeing this as appropriate is emblematic of a larger issue. Some consumers, for one single product, easily conduct 10 hours of online research before they enter a store. How is a store associate with less than 10 hours of training annually across thousands of SKUs expect to be able to compete with that?
The findings point to a similar lack of commitment to other positions:
- Forty-one percent of winners say assistant managers should get 30 hours or more of training a year. They later reported that only 24 percent receive this level of training.
- Thirty-two percent of laggards say managers should get more than 30 hours a year of training, however, only 19 percent reported they do.
- And while everyone agrees that store associates are the key to returning the store to a place of relevancy in consumers’ lives, fully zero percent of lagging retailers report that their store associates receive 30 hours of training over the course of a year.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should be the minimal and optimal number of annual training hours for new and existing store associates as well as assistant managers and managers? Has committing to training hours become more important at a time when consumers are empowered by online research?